Let’s continue our discussion of your SiFi/F world. You remember--the place you fashioned for your story. The place your reader escapes to--explores and marvels at your creative talent. What makes your world work for your story? Does it have snow capped mountains or hot dry wastelands, cities with glass spires or small towns with a pub, indigenous people and strange critters?
When I read a good SiFi or Fantasy book I am whisked away to a different place and time. Sometime to a different planet where I meet alien races and ride in spaceships to the outer edges of the universe. Remember the Star Wars saga with many different planets, aliens, spaceships and creatures. Each planet and alien race was described with such detail that the reader (or movie viewer) was completely drawn into the author’s world. This is your job; to draw your reader in and make him/her believe that somewhere in time and space your world exists.
One of the problems authors often encounters creating their place is too much description. Not only does it tend to slow down the story it also forces many readers to skip to the good stuff, the action, conflict and the ending. What techniques do you use? Do you draw a map first and describe the setting or blunder in sprinkling cities, people/aliens, mountains, rivers as you need them?
I use a combination of short description through the eyes of the protagonist and a term I coined called reader discovery. When my protagonist travels through my place, the reader discovers, at the same time, what my protagonist sees (point of view description). My world is not only made up of solid objects it also includes sounds, smells, colors, animals; the list goes on.
When we build our world we need to show the reader that it is different from the one he/she lives in. We tend to think in the present and as such tend to write with the same technology. Imagine an alien who lives 120,000 light years from earth using the same toaster or toilet you use back home. Not to convincing for your reader. How about using a shower, which has no doors and uses a force field to keep water inside? Now we are getting somewhere. We do not have anything like that on earth and at the same time it is believable.
I would like to hear from you. How do you build your world (place)? How is your protagonist affected by the world you have thrust him/her into?